Bringing Ezra Back


by Cynthia DeFelice
the sequel to the award-winning Weasel
published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Armed with his fiddle and a five-dollar gold piece, Nathan sets out in September 1840 to find Ezra and bring him home. He travels with Orrin Beckwith, a peddler he has only just met and doesn’t fully trust.
As Nathan gets farther and farther from home, he encounters more people than he’s ever met—some of them well-meaning sheep and some of them snarling wolves—and he begins to wonder how to tell one from the other, for people are constantly surprising him. The biggest shock, however, may be Ezra himself, and it will take more than Nathan bargained for to bring him back.

A Note from the Author

Ever since Weasel was published in 1990, I have received letters begging for a sequel. I was pleased that so many readers wanted to return to Ohio in 1839 to find out what happened next to Nathan Fowler and his family and their mysterious friend Ezra. I wondered about this myself. But I didn’t want to write a disappointing sequel. Better, I thought, to let the first book stand alone. Better to leave readers – and myself – wondering.

The problem, in a nutshell, was that I couldn’t imagine how to write a follow-up adventure with all the suspense and strong feeling of the first book when the character of Weasel, the source of all the that emotion and tension, is dead at the end. Without him, where was the story?

Kids had many creative answers to my dilemma: I could write about the ghost of Weasel! Or his evil twin! Or his son! Intriguing as those were, I’d explain that a sequel would have to be historical fiction like the original, a story based firmly in the reality of the Ohio frontier.

When I thought about Nathan and Ezra, I couldn’t help feeling that their experience with Weasel would surely have left its mark on them, in spite of their determination to leave hatred and bitterness behind. That had to be part of the story. But where was the adventure? I began to think about Isaac the Peddler, a minor character from the first book, and started researching the lives of the tradesman who braved the dangers of the backwoods. This led me to create the character of Orrin Beckwith, the no-better-than-he-has-to-be salesman with whom Nathan travels through Ohio and Pennsylvania in Bringing Ezra Back. Researching further, I discovered just what Ezra would have found on his trip west looking for his dead wife’s Shawnee kinfolk, and I know knew where Nathan’s journey would lead him.

Reviews

“A worthy sequel to Weasel (S&S, 1990) DeFelice’s beloved tale of Ohio’s frontier in the 1840’s….Told in Nathan’s voice, this adventure treats readers to a double-dip cliff-hanging plot and heart-searing maturation.” — School Library Journal, Sept 2006

“DeFelice returns to the Ohio wilderness of 1840 to tell a very different but no less compelling story. Nathan’s first person narration is realistic, and his adventures are exciting. Fans and newcomers will be satisfied with this long-awaited sequel.” — Kirkus, Aug 2006

“The characters’ speech, values, and economic and social situations capture the historical setting. Yet, Nathan is everyboy, searching to understand the world and his place in it. DeFelice incorporates necessary backstory, but this sequel offers a fine opportunity to introduce the suspense of Weasel to a new generation of readers.” — Horn Book, Sept/Oct 2006

“In this sequel to Weasel (1990), 12-year-old Nathan, accompanied by peddler Owen Beckwith, journeys to Pennsylvania searching for Ezra, the man left mute as a result of Weasel’s savagery. Since the events of the previous year, Nathan has had great difficulty trusting people, so this journey offers him insight into the ways of the world and needed skills in judging human nature. When he finally locates Ezra, who is being held captive by the owner of a freak show, it takes all Nathan’s new expertise and more to rescue Ezra and help him return to Ohio. As always, DeFelice’s finely nuanced characters shine: Nathan both matures and heals from his earlier scarring; Beckwith, a huckster with a good heart, supplies much insight into reading people; and Ezra, beaten down by life, can nevertheless respond to Nathan’s kindness. .. this is a thoughtful adventure that will appeal to Weasel fans everywhere.” — Booklist, August 2006